"Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," – John 1:29

History of Lutheran Church in Mount Hagen, W.H.P.

In 1934 the Church of Christ started her work in the central Highlands of Papua New Guinea.  On the 21st November, at 8 am in 1934, a land in Ogelbeng, a small native village north of the township of Mount Hagen was chosen to be the Headquarters of the Church for mission work in the highlands. 

From Ogelbeng station, the missionaries enrolled men and women from nearby villages in order to teach and preach the Word of God and even preparing some to become evangelists to other parts of the highlands region.  The Gospel played its role, touching the hearts of these people, preparing them for the baptism in order to become the first Lutheran members in Mount Hagen.  The first baptismal ceremony was held at Ogelbeng on the 6th June 1948.  A total of 125 adults and 40 children, a total of 165 were pioneers of the first baptism.

Rev. Doring and Dr.Kuder were the main celebrants for the first baptism and Dr. Juder also preached the sermon in the Melpa language.  This was seen as the birth of Melpa Lutheran Church as these people were all from the Melpa speaking area.  The church extended its work to other parts of the province in the teaching and preaching of the Good News and a total of eight thousand people were baptized in subsequent years.

Before their baptism, people repented of their sins and evil ways and promised to do away with tribal fights, traditional customs, sorcery, stealing and other evil practices of the past.  However, it is apparent that people broke their promises with God and has started to engage in the evil ways from the beginning of 1964.  The interesting phenomenon is that tribal fights erupted in the first village and tribe where the first baptism was held. 

The Jika tribe was the original people to host the initial baptism and because they were disobedient they had a big tribal warfare amongst themselves.  A man was assassinated after they had an argument over a tree.  The other sub-clan retaliated and murdered a councilor, which resulted in a huge fight.  Consequently, the government stepped in and removed all the tribesmen and took possession of the land and established Mt. Hagen Technical College on one part and dumped garbage on the other. 

 The other major tribal fight erupted in 1974 between the Jika and Yamuka tribes.  They disputed a land near Ogelbeng where the first baptism was held.  Many lives and properties were lost during this warfare.  The government intervened and arrested some of their ringleaders with assistance from church leaders and the fight discontinued.  This was the first time for some members and current Bishop of Melpa Lutheran Church to prevent the full scale fight between the two major tribes of central Western Highlands.

 From 1949 onwards, Melpa evangelists were sent from Oglebeng to Enga province, Alkena at the foot of Mount Giluwe, Mendi, Ialibu, Tiripini and Wabi in Southern Highlands Province.  These revivalists accompanied the pioneer evangelists from Kate and Yabem in Lae, Morobe and Madang Provinces with founding fathers from abroad.  During the missionary years (1934-1962) the Lutheran Church was under one umbrella known as the Highlands District.  Later in 1962, the Boana Synod has resolved that the Highlands District be divided in to three separate Districts.  Below are the three districts:

 

  1. Goroka District
  2. Simbu District
  3. Hagen District

 During this transitional period, the church elders suggested that Hagen District be renamed as Melpa but Rev. Strauss was against this suggestion and the name remained Hagen District. These three districts administered their own church work in evangelization and preaching of the Gospel in their respective areas.  The only time they met was during Church Council meetings and Synods. 

 The table below reveals the chronology of conferences held, year, hosting congregation or circuit and recording of special events that have taken place.

Conference #

Year

Hosts

Remarks of the Conferences

1

1963

Kotna – Konta Circuit

First conference

2

1964

Ogelbeng – Ogel.Circuit

Second conference

3

1965

Tiria – Tiria Circuit

Third conference

4

1966

Alkena – Alkena Circuit

 

5

1967

Ialibu – Iilabu Circuit

First District elections.  Mr. Lomaboa won but Rev. Rungwu did not hand over the leadership so Mr. Lomaboa left the ministry.

6

1968

Banz – Banz Circuit

 

7

1969

Kotna – Konta Circuit

 

8

1970

Tiria – Tiria Circuit

 

9

1971

Alpingi – Alkena Circuit

 

10

1972

Tindua – Ialibu Circuit

Rev. J. Mambu elected as District Bishop

11

1973

Wabi – Wabi Circuit

 

12

1974

Tiripini – Tiripini Circuit

 

13

1975

Kudjip – Banz Circuit

 

14

1976

Ruti – Kotna Circuit

 

15

1977

LH Seminary – Ogelbeng

 

16

1978

Kalipine – Ialibu Circuit

 

17

1979

Tiria – Tiria Circuit

 

18

1980

Mendo – Wabi Circuit

 

19

1981

Alkena – Alkena Circuit

 

20

1982

Ropanda – Rokine Cir.

Bishop Mambu resigns and Mr. Sanangke Dole elected as District Leader.

21

1983

Mamoane – Tiripini Cir.

District Leader elect Mr. Dole was ordained as Rev. Dole on 11/09/83.

22

1984

Kunjumung – Kuma Cir.

The Hagen District was divided into three separate districts; Emmanuel, Ziwaka and Hagen Districts.  Rev. Kaepnil Rombe was elected as Emmanuel District President.

23

1985

Koem – Melpa Circuit

Prior to this conference, the District Council suspended Rev. Sanangke Dole for five months.  This conference was to determine his re-instatement as District Leader.  84 delegates voted for and 66 were against his reinstatement.  Of the 66, 22 delegates walked out of the conference while a total of 108 remained till the end of the conference.  This was the beginning of the division of the Hagen District.

24

1986

Penda – Konta Circuit

 

25

1987

Bangi – Engal Circuit

Kopon was declared a circuit

26

1988

Gland – Tiria Circuit

Mul was declared a circuit

27

1989

Ropanda – Rokine Cir.

Bishop S. Dole was re-elected.

28

1990

Kontkona – Melpa Cir.

Hagen was changed to Melpa District, re-affirming the original suggestion during the birth process.

29

1991

Bukapena – Mul Circuit

They then took the resolution to the Kundiawa synod for approval. A vote was taken, which threw their resolution out. Their agreement was that the matter had not been resolved satisfactorily. It was seen as a one-sided decision.

30

1992

Romonga – Kotna Circuit

 

31

1993

Kentagl – Engal Circuit

Murip joined with Melpa District.

32

1994

Angka – Tiria Circuit

 

33

1995

Rokine – Rokine Circuit

 

34

1996

Wimbika – Melpa Circuit

Ogelbeng and Block Circuit joined Melpa District.

35

1997

Elimp – Mul Circuit

Dr.T. Ahrens and Prof. Linder of St. James congregation, Hamburg, Germany visited Melpa District and were guest speakers at the Pastors and District Conference.

36

1998

Kinjibi – Kotna Circuit

This conference unanimously resolved that Melpa District be changed to Melpa Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea.

37

1999

Kentagl – Engal Circuit

District Conference was convened at Kentagl. The Assistant Bishop, Rev. Kiage Motoro represented ELC-PNG.  The Assistant Bishop was informed of our intentions to establish a new church.  He responded by saying that this would be a significant step for the Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea. The MLC, he said, would be a model for others in the country. The Chairman of the New Guinea Coordinating Committee in Germany made an important statement that:“The home of the founder of the Lutheran Church, Senior Flierl, at Simbang is now covered with overgrowth. He saw the cordyline plants at Kentagl and asked us to nurture them into big plants”.MLC officially informed Rev. G. Fugmann and Rev. Kiage Motoro of ELC-PNG of our intention to be the church of our own.

 Mr. Hosea Punga a traditional landowner gave the Kentagl land on which the church institutions are established to MLC-PNG.

38

2000

First Convention held at Tiria – Tiria Circuit

Officially launched our registered Melpa Lutheran Church in PNG at 11:30 a.m. on the 9th January 2000.

38

2001

 

Operated as the third Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea re-establishing networks with members of ELC-PNG and GLC-PNG.

39

2002

Second Convention (Synod) held in Ecclesia One.

Visit of the President of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to observe the Mission work and establishments of the three Lutheran Churches in Papua New Guinea.

40 

2003

Women’s NationalConvention at Tiria

Convened first Women’s National Conventionand launched Society of Rural Melpa Women’s Inc. as a branch of MLC-PNG.

41

2004 

Third Convention held in Ecclesia Three.Special Delegation Visit by LWF, Geneva.

Convene third Convention in September.Visitation by a Special Delegation from the Lutheran World Federation on the 5th May 2004.Peace and Reconciliation ceremony with Bishop Dr Wesley Kigasung and MLC-PNG.

42

2005

Women’s NationalConvention at Iki, Baiyer River. 

Talked about establishing effective Women network in the church and evaluated some of the women programs in the church.Peace and reconciliation ceremony between Melpa Lutheran Church and Hagen District at Olgebeng in WHP.

43

2006

Fourth Convention held in Ecclesia Two  

Discussed about the programs of the church and establishing effective network with sister churches in Papua New Guinea. 

44

2007

Pastors Conference held in Ecclesia One  

Bishop Kigasung, Assistant Bishop Joe Rapa and Dr Kemung were invited as Guest of Honour. Some more discussions on peace and reconciliation.

The main rationale for the brief history of the province is to make people aware of the fact that the Lutheran and Catholic Churches have contributed significantly towards the social, intellectual and spiritual development of the people of Western Highlands Province. 

 The government was working in partnership with the churches to bring about significant developments and progress of this province.  The Western Highlands Province and the rest of the country is currently experiencing severe tribal fights especially in the highlands, break down in law and order, family violence, drug addictions, prostitution, vandalisms, rape, murder, sexual abuse, lack of respect and care of public properties and corruptions. 

 The Melpa Lutheran Church has recognized the past valuable contributions by pioneer missionaries and is currently taking a leading role in providing basic health, education and peace services and offer spiritual guidance and nourishment to its members and other people in this province and the whole of Papua New Guinea.

Advertisements